ALBERTA

Nenshi Wants $52 Million Tax Surplus Put Toward Flood Recovery

07/22/2013 03:50 EDT | Updated 07/22/2013 04:25 EDT

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi is urging council members to agree to use the city's unexpected $52-million tax surplus to help rebuild after flooding last month.

Aldermen announced earlier this year that a tax discrepancy lead to the multi-million-dollar windfall, after property taxes were raised more than the 5.1-per-cent increase the city budgeted for, to offset a lower request for provincial education taxes.

In a motion released Monday, Nenshi argued the $52-million should be placed into flood relief and flood prevention projects for the next two years - for a total of $104-million.

Council would then decide what will happen with the windfall, for years 2015 and beyond, in future hearings.

Thousands of Calgarians previously voted on what they wanted done with the money, choosing from five options including putting it into transit projects or giving it back to taxpayers.

The public survey results, also announced Monday, show the majority of voters want the money returned to the pockets of the taxpayer.

According to the Calgary Sun, 53 per cent of people chose the "give it back option" in the survey (5,224 of 9,767 votes,) where just 1,443 people voted to put the money back into transit.

However, Nenshi is worried that not all of Calgary's flood recovery needs will be covered by insurance or the provincial and federal governments, and he wants to ensure the city receives full coverage, reports the Calgary Herald.

The city has pegged the initial cost of the flood at $256.6 million, including damages to the Calgary Zoo, parks and recreation areas, riverbanks and City Hall.

Monday's council session is the first time aldermen have gathered to meet since flooding caused widespread damage to Calgary in late June.

Ward 4 Ald. Gael McLeod told 660 News before council decides what to do with the cash, they should try and find out how much damage from the flood will be covered by the provincial and federal governments.

Ald. Andre Chabot agreed, telling Metro Calgary "it’s premature to even consider spending this money on those kinds of things without first hearing what the province has to say.”

Nenshi will need to drum up seven other votes from aldernen in order to win his motion.

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